I could see peace instead of this.
This is one of my favorite lessons in the ACIM workbook. I truly believe that it encapsulates several core ideas that are essential to practicing A Course in Miracles. We are the one with Love. We remember and extend Love by choosing to think differently. Changing our thoughts changes what we see and the result is peace.
That’s A Course in Miracles in a nutshell.
I spent the night in a hospital. I arrived late, after a long day, and I stayed up for about nine hours sitting by my father’s bed. I hate hospitals. They make me feel powerless. They’re like bland bureaucracies with the power of life and death. I feel depersonalized and threatened when I am in them. And that’s on top of worrying about Dad.
I generally respond to fear with rage-like fantasies that are alternately scary, embarrassing and silly. It’s like part of my mind has to compensate for the fear and to do so by doubling down on the fundamental conflict. It’s crazy. It helps nothing and nobody.
So I want to do better than that. My father needs me and I do not help anybody – not my father, not myself, not my siblings or mother, not the dedicated staff – if I am crazy and sullen and paranoid.
Lesson 34 was a beautiful and helpful – in part because it was also frustrating – antidote.
I began practicing at about 3 a.m. while my father slept. The room was tiny and the chair was hard but it was a fine and mellow meditation. I read the lesson by the light of my cell phone, then closed my eyes. I found that my mind followed the previous lessons – I am not the victim of the world I see because I have invented the world I see and there is another way of looking at the world – which naturally evoked “I could see peace instead of this.”
Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter. It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward. It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful interpretation of the world arises (W-pI.34.1:2-4).
And, indeed, this was how it functioned.
Perhaps because it was quiet and dark, perhaps because it was an unusual and intense situation, but I “broke” the lesson’s suggestion that I focus on my thoughts. I fully recognize and accept that peace is an inside job, an internal matter, the external world merely reflecting an interior decision. But when those five minutes were over I opened my eyes and kept going. I’d look at the hospital bed. I could see peace instead of this. The cord you yank to call the nurses? I could see peace instead of this. The concrete garage blocking my view out the window? I could see peace instead of this.
This is an example of allowing ourselves to meet A Course in Miracles where we are.
I applied it to sounds. That beeping from the saline drip? I could see peace instead of this. The snoring two doors down? I could see peace instead of this. The doctor telling a joke?
I could see peace instead of this.
And slowly I began to see peace. And – more than that – realize that peace was what I’d been seeing all along. I’d walked into that hospital fully expecting the worst but ready to be okay with it. This is going to suck, Jesus, and we both know it, but let’s get it done. And at first – for a quick couple of minutes – it did suck. All the doors were locked. But then this guy – who knows what he was doing sitting in a dark car with his window open – directed me to the one door that was open. The don’t-mess-with-me security officer at the front desk? Asked about the weather before directing me upstairs. The nurse who I thought was going to demand I leave because “visiting hours” were over? She brought me a pillow and a blanket.
Every turn – whatever happened – the worst turned out to be okay. No, it was better than okay. And then, at some point during my Lesson 34 mumbles, maybe around the time the sun was starting to rise, it hit me. Things were okay because I was okay. That willingness at the beginning meant I was bringing my will into alignment with God’s will. And even though that didn’t pacify the ego – hence the ongoing fear – it did open something deeper, something beyond the ego’s reach. I experienced love and safety at each turn because I am love and safety. No me as in Sean, you understand. Me as in you and me. And you and me as in God, as Love itself.
This was a sort of peaceful recognition. I was exhausted – sleep-deprived – strung out on bad coffee – worried about how the rest of the day was going to pan out. No light shows. No dulcet voices. Just a sweet warm sense of peace. I’m okay. It’s okay. When we are willing to act as if we are not ego – when we are willing to be miracle workers even though we doubt the assignment – we are unified and in union we are pacified. Maybe it’s Jesus. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit.
And maybe God is Love and as God’s creations, we too are Love.
This post is deeply autobiographical. We experience the course in the context of our lives in the world; we aren’t monks and nuns doing the lessons in isolation. We are embodied in the world and the lessons are the means – in that body in that world – by which we learn the truth of what we are.
sean that is just beautiful
Hey Sean! Thank you for the kind words.
I so love your writings on the lessons in the Course.
Your practical applications are simply overwhelmingly awesome.
Reading here today on lesson 34..
I could see peace instead of this…
Really wrestling this day with this lesson and the enlightenment begotten…when I can actually “do it”…one moment at a time…sometimes one second at a time..
Thank you so very much.
Natalia in Rhode Island
You’re welcome, Natalia. Thank you for reading and being here . . .
Very happy to have found this oldie-but-goodie, Sean. It speaks to me. Remembering to practice loving alignment seems so simple but can be so elusive. I often remind myself: Less fear; more God! Thanks for all you share on this blog. Peace.
I always wince at those old lesson posts. I wrote with a lot of sincerity but I was in a hurry then, trying to do a lesson post a day. It’s odd because I didn’t – and still don’t, really – approach the lessons that way. I’ve been going back and editing, trying to deepen and clarify the writing, but it’s slow going.
Still, I’m glad it was helpful in its way. I really appreciate the care you take reading and sharing. Hope you’re enjoying the Spring!
Thank you for sharing such a personal view of this lesson — it was perfect, as I spent yesterday in the ER, hubby by my side, only to be told I was fine, perfectly healthy, just having weird after effects of Covid. Sitting in the ER while the scanned me for all sorts of scary things, those things weren’t scaring me. I was pretty peaceful with whatever would be. So waking up today to this lesson, with this crazy unknown autonomic symptoms of a body gone a little haywire, I am just going to stay home for my 5 days as ordered and have a peaceful little time of it … or at least if I have moments I am not, I have lessons to come back to to find it again! 🙂
I’m glad to hear that the lessons are resonating. Peace and happiness is our natural state and the lessons are pointers to remembering – and when we forget, re-remembering – this fact. Thank you Julia!
Sean, thank you
I liked ‘I generally respond to fear with rage-like fantasies that are alternately scary, embarrassing and silly. It’s like part of my mind has to compensate for the fear and to do so by doubling down on the fundamental conflict. It’s crazy. It helps nothing and nobody.’
How you started from ‘previous lessons – I am not the victim of the world I see because I have invented the world I see and there is another way of looking at the world – which naturally evoked “I could see peace instead of this.” ‘
‘ I experienced love and safety at each turn because I am love and safety.’
‘ when we are willing to be miracle workers even though we doubt the assignment – we are unified and in union we are pacified’
‘Things were okay because I was okay’
You’re so welcome, Jill . . . I’m glad you find it helpful . . . And I am grateful to share this path with you – thank you for being here!
I just want to say that I appreciate this sharing of your father in the hospital because it helps me to understand practical applications of ACIM in my daily life. I have been reading the ACIM text and while I think I am absorbing the ideas in it, because the wording is complex and does not directly connect to real-world applications (like your hospital experience), I get lost at times.
Thank you, Cathy. When I first started studying A Course in Miracles I was very hungry for specific examples of application – Tara Singh fed that hunger for me and helped me learn how to “live” the Course, rather than just think about it. I do believe that understanding is important, but the material is less complex than it seems (I love ACIM but it is WAAAAY overwritten). The real healing lies in practice, and practice means application. It took me a long time to appreciate and integrate this. So thank you for this kind comment – I am very grateful 🙏🙏
These concrete life examples are deeply helpful for all of us. It’s showing us ACIM in action. It’s making it real and human because we can relate to the situations you describe.
Thank you for sharing those so authentically.
You’re welcome, Audrey. The first teacher I read very closely re: A Course in Miracles was Tara Singh, and his emphasis was very much on application, on how to live the Course. It was eye-opening to me and fundamental; it made clear that one didn’t just study the Course, but that there was a corresponding practice that could gently – and someties not so gently – flow through your living. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of the Buddhists who were very helpful to me in my early twenties. You studied, say, Dōgen, you sat zazen morning and night, but in between you were actively practicing being peaceful and helpful. Application is context, and context is the only way to remember Love.